The diachronic study of language and its evolution.

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52 views

Where can I find old dictionaries?

I'm often curious about how the meanings of English words have evolved over time. I have a copy the 1913 Webster's, and it's very useful. But ideally I would like to have a copy for each decade, or ...
4
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2answers
105 views

Isolated language as null hypotheses?

When reading about rare or antique languages I often came across statements like "the most widespread / widely accepted theory is that it is an isolated language". You can read that for example in ...
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1answer
54 views

Abstract analysis [closed]

Propose two analyses for given data: an abstract analysis, with abstract underlying segments and a concrete analysis with exception features. [sen't-amos] we sit / ['sjent-o] I sit ...
6
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1answer
196 views

Where did the homonyms which retain meaning among languages come from?

Some languages have homonyms which are semantically equivalent to homonyms in other languages. A few examples of this phenomenon: "Morgen" in German and "утре" in Bulgarian can mean either ...
4
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0answers
67 views

How can we support that two words with different meanings are cognate?

Consider this excerpt from this etymology of "lose": Old English losian "be lost, perish," from los "destruction, loss," from Proto-Germanic * lausa- (cognates: Old Norse los "the breaking up of ...
2
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1answer
63 views

Just a stupid question about possible connection between Finno-Ugric and European languages

So, I've taken a look on some Finnic conjugation and it just seems VERY similar to Indo-European languages. For instance, https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/n%C3%A4hd%C3%A4#Finnish . One notices ...
-1
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1answer
66 views

How do they know how to translate Old English?

For instance, we know how to translate the hieroglyphics because of the Rosetta Stone. I'm aware that Old English is far more similar to known languages than the hieroglyphics, but looking at the ...
6
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2answers
122 views

What program can I use to make a tree of a language family?

I'm not looking to make anything really special looking, I'd just like to make basic branches going down to draw a family tree. I tried Paint but that's difficult to edit, and Word wouldn't be easy to ...
2
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0answers
55 views

How did 'arithmetic' come to current pronunciation (or spelling)?

I am talking about 'th' that represents /θ/ sound. Wiktionary states, that the word 'arithmetic' is borrowed at some stage from French 'arsmetike'. I can imagine that at some moment the word came to ...
10
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2answers
191 views

How stable are grammatical genders?

In languages which have gender-like classifications for nouns, like French and Russian, how often do nouns change gender over time? Have any studies been done to get statistics on how many words have ...
1
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1answer
60 views

Sound correspondences in Germanic languages

I've noticed that in particular germanic languages have similar base words to english of which many times the only difference is that of the vowels. This would make sense seing as to how they are ...
2
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2answers
114 views

Other languages that borrow as promiscuously as English?

I've heard people say that the reason English is such a great language is that it's enriched itself by stealing so promiscuously from other languages. The image I get of English is that she's like the ...
2
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2answers
74 views

History of Preverbs in Indo-European

As you may know, quite some of the IE languages know preverbs, who may modify the meaning of a verbal root. I would like to know more about the interrelation of the various preverbs found in these ...
6
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2answers
107 views

Is there something deeper behind the “verb classes swapping” of the subjunctive endings in Romance languages?

I first asked this question in http://spanish.stackexchange.com/q/15929/11155 However the Spanish community has not found any answer yet and the phenomenon is observable in many Romance languages. I ...
1
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2answers
109 views

Has any Indic language spirantized its voiceless aspirates? If not, why not?

Many or most Indic languages possess voiceless aspirated stops. Cross-linguistically, such stops often turn into fricatives: e.g., in Indo-European, this happened in Greek, in Iranian, and probably in ...
4
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1answer
178 views

Did Latin have lower-case letters and a full stop at the end of sentences in the 1st century AD?

Did Latin have lower-case letters and a full stop at the end of sentences in the 1st century AD? Googling doesn't seem to yield a definitive answer.
4
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2answers
133 views

“Cloth” lexical set: Is there a complete description of the possible conditioning environments?

This question is about speakers without the cot-caught merger (so, speakers who pronounce words such as “lot,” “cot,” “swat" with a distinct vowel from words such as “thought,” “caught,” “water.”) ...
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2answers
101 views

Degree of difference between language ans its ancestor

I know that languages change over time and they also diverge, which should decrease mutual intelligibility, but usually they do so in the way that keeps bunch of languages more or less together, while ...
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0answers
64 views

Why is the French accent so different from other Romance accents? [closed]

In terms of pronounciation, the general French accent is very different from the Italian, Spanish or Romanian ones. For example: many conventional sounds in Romance langauges (i.e. /r/ or /j/) are ...
4
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4answers
168 views

Are sound changes regular?

Are sound changes regular now or not? I mean it seems to me that it's accepted that sound change is pretty regular, because of how sound changes are treated in etymology/historical linguistics. I even ...
3
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2answers
161 views

What were the westernmost and easternmost Indo-European languages in c. 1350 CE?

More specifically, what are the most historically entrenched westernmost and easternmost Indo-European languages? For my purposes, this excludes the spread of English, Spanish etc. through relatively ...
10
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2answers
523 views

What is the reason for the double negation found in some languages?

I'm a bulgarian. My language has a double negation form and I do not understand why and how can people talk like that and how it came to be in first place. Everyone just seem to accept it and no one ...
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0answers
27 views

Influences on the accent of Georgia (the American state)?

The accent of (most of) the American state of Georgia, as far as I know, lacks the drawl of most other Southern American accents. Instead, it is quicker and clipped. Does anyone know why? Does the ...
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2answers
83 views

Historical Linguistics: Merging consonants [closed]

In Middle Egyptian (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Egyptian_language#Phonology), the /s/ and /z/ merged into one sound, but the graphemes continued to be used interchangeably. As one who is interested ...
6
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5answers
147 views

Place feature metathesis

Familiar cases of metathesis involve segments changing places, but metathesis can also operate at the subsegmental level, affecting individual features. I'm specifically interested in metathesis of ...
1
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1answer
88 views

Are there laws of semantic change? [closed]

I'm looking for laws (hypotheses, presumed laws) of semantic change such as the following: (a) law of differentiation: nearby synonyms tend to diverge in meaning over time (b) parallel change: words ...
6
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1answer
129 views

Why the grammatical difference between “eu gosto” in Portuguese and “me gusta” in Spanish. What's the historical evolution of this expression?

Apparently, "eu" is the subject in "eu gosto (de isso)" while "me" is the object in "me gusta (algo)". Why such a difference between two languages? What's the historical evolution of this expression?
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0answers
39 views

Is the development of an English phrase such as “on the internet” a process of natural selection? [closed]

I keep asking this question over and over again. For example, it seems that the word "Internet" (the specific global system of interconnected Internet Protocol (IP) networks) was coined in 1960s or ...
2
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2answers
96 views

Is there a phylogenetic tree for all known languages?

I have searched all over, and found a few but none of them have all known languages that ever existed, does anyone know of one of these? (p.s. I apologize for making language mistakes, as English is ...
6
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2answers
200 views

Are there practical reasons why languages developed left to right or right to left writing sytems

Some writing systems go right to left, such as Arabic: Others left to right, for example modern romance languages: Languages like Japanese traditionally used vertical writing systems where the ...
7
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2answers
172 views

Did PIE *h3 cause voicing in any other words than the “drink” word?

The Proto-Indo-European "third laryngeal", *h3, is often assumed to have been a voiced sound based on the fact that some reflexes of the "drink" root *peh3- appear to show voicing assimilation of p to ...
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2answers
74 views

Labiodental sounds in languages

I noticed that IE languages often derive /v/ from /w/. It is a bit of a rare sound (predominantly IE?). I wonder how /v/ came about in various languages? In general, labiodentals seem to be a more ...
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2answers
163 views

Is there any language which doesn't have “hello”, “thank you” or “please”? [closed]

If so, is there seen some relation (origin in the Proto-Human language), or did these phrases arose independently?
7
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0answers
124 views

Are any dialects of English known to have a partial meet-meat merger?

For many dialects of English (including my own) multiple historical lexical sets are merged into one "FLEECE" set (this diaphoneme can be represented with IPA /iː/). I've read about the basics of the ...
2
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2answers
114 views

Irregular penultimate stress in English words from classical sources

Wikipedia says about stress in Latinate English words: In words of three or more syllables, stress falls either on the penult or the antepenult (third from the end), according to these criteria: ...
3
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1answer
64 views

Have there been attempts to verify accuracy of the comparative method?

Comparative method, being a great accomplishment of historical linguistics, obviously has its flaws. Reconstructions of proto-languages provided by this method can only be perceived as mere abstract ...
3
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2answers
102 views

What's the reason behind the “silent n”?

My impression is that the concept of a silent "n" is quite common in many different languages/linguistic families . What is the reason that the "silent n" is so common in language as opposed to other ...
6
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2answers
91 views

Are there languages without subordination/only with parataxis?

My Latin teacher was talking about parataxis and hypotaxis using coordinating vs subordination conjunctions. He said that may have been the way people spoke in the past. I don't believe there ever was ...
2
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1answer
193 views

Why is the letter “Q” visually simillar to “O”?

G was created out of C by adding an additional line, for an obvious reason as they represented similar sounds in Latin. But why is Q pretty much O with an additional line? These two letter do not ...
6
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2answers
318 views

How did it happen that K was introduced to Latin alphabet in place of C and C started to mark /t͡s/ or /s/ in many languages?

I know that K has been derived from Greek kappa and C from gamma. But how did it happen that people started to use K in place of C? From what I know there were already C and G in the Latin alphabet ...
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1answer
48 views

What are the dimensions along which English & Portuguese differ? [closed]

What are the dimensions along which English & Portuguese differ, and how are these dimensions of variation related and restricted?
2
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1answer
114 views

How can case systems emerge diachronically?

This questions applies only to the languages which originally did not feature noun case systems and developed it over time through various sound, morphological and syntactical changes. By a case ...
2
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0answers
23 views

Are there resources that explore interchange between object and the subject caused by a verb?

1. Are there linguistics terms that describe the following phonemenon? 2. I desire to learn the possible explanations or reasons that in English, certain verbs interchanged the subject and object to ...
4
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1answer
123 views

*sn > n (in Latin)

The older consonant cluster sn- loses its s in Latin: nix "snow" vs. English snow cēna "supper" vs. older Latin cesna Two questions: 1) Since word-medial -sn- was clearly lost within the history ...
2
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0answers
36 views

Theories/Models to explain the language evolution? [closed]

I'd like to read about the language evolution and the models related to it such as the Schneider's Model. Any help? :)
2
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1answer
91 views

Is language is more about “intent” rather than a great tool for communication? [closed]

Do you think it's fair to say Language is more about "intent" rather than a great tool for communication? I wonder if it is a limitation of language in some way, that its so easy to miscommunicate ...
3
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2answers
196 views

Was the change in spelling from “cw” to “qu” in English associated with any difference in pronunciation?

I always thought that "cw" in Old English represented /kw/, and the same for modern English "qu", and that the change from one to the other was purely orthographic, since the "qu" digraph was more ...
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0answers
107 views

Help us save a dying language with only 1 speaker left! [closed]

It's difficult to do this single-handedly, so I could use some professional help. :) I'm a professor of Ancient Egyptian (and cosmology as well, which means I'm a perfect target for conspiracy ...
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0answers
29 views

What's the best way to combine systemic functional grammar and historical linguistics?

What's the best way to combine SFL/SFG and historical linguistics? I've just thought of diachronic genre analysis as being an interesting area to explore, but my understanding is that that's got more ...
2
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1answer
143 views

What is the current status of (systemic) functional grammar/linguistics

I'm sorry if my questions may sound rudimentary, so please bear with me. :-) I'm thinking of delving deeper into functional grammar/linguistics (most probably systemic in particular), perhaps with ...